Using Canvas…and Getting Away with it: Google Sites

In this series of blog posts, we’ll examine ways that you can transition to the Canvas Learning Management System without having to recreate all the things you’ve used before. Remember: USE CANVAS. DON’T LET CANVAS USE YOU.

The Mark

Time

You don’t have to “master” Canvas to use it to get to your goal. You just need to know what your goal is first. Chief on your goal list is not being stressed out by having to transition to another learning management system and starting from scratch.

Also, Canvas has the advantage in that it will roster your students for you and the gradebook will sync to Infinite Campus. These are abilities you want to exploit as it will save you time in the long run. You can take advantage of both of these abilities without have to know very much Canvas at all.

Google

If you and your students have been using Google Workspace for Education, then you’ve probably have a ton of resources and activities built in Google Docs, Google Slides, and Jamboard that you’d like to utilize. While you can add them to Canvas, they work a lot better in Google’s native environment.

Users

Your users (students and parents) might be more familiar with Google Classroom than Canvas, especially if you’re an elementary school teacher. Keeping them in a Google environment, at least at first, might assuage any unease.

The Tool

If you’re more comfortable with Google Classroom and don’t have a lot of experience with Canvas, Google Sites is a natural tool to bridge the divide.

Google Sites is the website creation tool in the Google ecosystem. If you have any experience with Google Slides, one could liken it to a drag and drop slide deck that becomes a website for you. You can add any resources from your Google Drive including Docs, Slides, Forms, and videos. You can add images via Google search or through just dragging them to the page.

If you’re in need of inspiration, there is a Classroom website template that they offer to jumpstart your creativity. You can build one or multiple sites to lead your users to their learning goals and not have to immediately learn the ins and outs of Canvas.

The Hustle

So how do I use them both? The simplest and most dynamic answer is hyperlinking. Remember that Canvas will roster your course and sync grades, two abilities we don’t want to waste. You don’t want to spend hours grading using a platform where you’ll have to spending time migrating those grades to your gradebook.

Instead, through hyperlinking, you can create just a single assignment in Canvas, publish it, and link that page to your Google Site so that students can do all their work outside of Canvas, but turn their assignments in on the platform. Because your assignment will be in your course, only roster students will be able to access it so it’ll be nice and secure.

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